September 30th, 2012
I make couscous and quinoa salad on a regular basis and I never measure anything or make it the same way twice. Know what that means? It’s a really adaptable, forgiving kind of recipe. That’s one of the reasons I love it.
The recipe that follows is not exactly what you see pictured above. I wrote down the recipe after a different batch when I happened to use half quinoa and half couscous, because I didn’t have enough of either one to make a whole salad. If you’re new to quinoa and unsure if you’ll like it, or you aren’t fond of quinoa’s nutty brown-rice flavor, the more familiar flavor of the pasta-like couscous mutes the stronger flavor of the quinoa a bit. But you could use just one or the other, if you prefer, as long as you end up with approximately 4 cups of cooked couscous and/or quinoa.
You could also increase, decrease, or omit altogether any veggies or fruit you like or don’t like, or add different ingredients (corn, black beans, diced mango) according to your taste. Of course the chicken could be left out (and maple syrup used for the sweetener in the dressing) for a vegan dish, or just to make a tasty side dish.
Couscous-Quinoa Salad with Grilled Chicken
Grilled Chicken Breasts
- 1/3 c. red wine vinegar
- juice from 1-2 limes (or about 3 Tbsp. bottled lime juice)
- 2 cloves garlic, crushed
- 2 skinless boneless chicken breasts
Combine the red wine vinegar, lime juice and garlic in a large zip-lock bag. Add the chicken breasts and marinate in the fridge for at least an hour, preferably at least four hours, turning the bag a couple of times. Discard the marinade and grill the chicken. Set aside until cool enough to handle, then chop into small bite-size pieces.
- 1/2 c. extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/4 c. white balsamic vinegar (regular balsamic is fine too)
- 2 cloves garlic, crushed
- 1 tbsp. fresh thyme leaves OR about 1 tsp. dried thyme
- 1-2 tsp. mustard
- 1/2 tsp. real maple syrup OR honey
- salt and pepper to taste
Combine EVOO through maple syrup and whisk thoroughly to combine. (Or combine in a jar with a screw-top lid and SHAKE SHAKE SHAKE. This is fun for kids, as long as you use a plastic jar. I find empty peanut-butter jars are great for this.) Add salt and pepper to taste. (I like dipping baby carrots or crackers in my homemade dressing to taste it.) Set aside.
- 2/3 c. uncooked couscous (I used whole wheat couscous from Trader Joe’s)
- 1/3 c. uncooked quinoa
- orange juice (optional)
- small onion, finely diced
- medium red bell pepper, finely diced
- 3 mini Persian cucumbers (from Trader Joes’s), peeled, quartered lengthwise, and sliced. OR 1 regular large cucumber, peeled, seeded and chopped
- 1 clementine OR small orange, peeled and diced
- large handful of spinach leaves, washed and chopped roughly into small pieces
- 1/4 c. roasted sunflower seeds
Cook the couscous and/or quinoa according to the package directions, replacing up to half of the water with orange juice and omitting the butter and salt.
In a large bowl, combine couscous and quinoa with the diced onion through the sunflower seeds. Add the diced chicken. Give the dressing a quick whisking (or shaking) to combine, then pour about one-third to half the dressing over the salad and combine thoroughly. Take a test bite, keeping in mind that some of the dressing will be absorbed by the salad over time. Add more dressing to taste, season with salt and pepper if necessary. If you like, garnish with crumbled goat cheese or feta.
Leftover dressing will keep in the fridge in an airtight container for up to a week. Leftover salad (if you have any) is delicious when scooped up and eaten with pretzel crisps or pita chips.
This recipe is toddler-approved!